I arrived in Dalian on the day of the funeral for firefighter Zhang Liang, who drowned beneath the thick crude when his crew jumped into the ocean – without safety gear – to attempt, in vain, to fix an underwater pipe.
Fishing boats cut through oil sheen at Dalian fishing port, where oil scooped from the sea is ferried for storage.
I arrived in Dalian on the day of the funeral for firefighter
Zhang Liang, who drowned beneath the thick crude when his crew
jumped into the ocean - without safety gear - to attempt, in vain,
to fix an underwater pipe. Our lead photographer, Jiang He, who by
now has reached legendary status globally for capturing the final
seconds of Zhang's life, continued to cover the very emotional
moments of this oil spill disaster.
Colleagues described how over 30,000 people lined the streets of
Dalian to honor Zhang. And judging from Jiang He's photos, there
were many outpourings of grief for his untimely death, at the age
of 25. People talked about whispers of anger from Dalian residents
and firefighters against the corporations responsible for this
tragic human and environmental disaster. And of their utter
callousness: in the evening of the same day, a fancy celebratory
dinner was held in one of Dalian's classiest hotels for the leaders
of Dalian PetroChina. A large banner with grammatically incorrect
Chinese welcomed them to the "fire rescue live event."
Dalian is known for its seafood as much as its beaches (not that
they're particularly magnificent - it's just there's very few
decent beaches in northern China). So to complete the sarcasm, the
fishing port of the city has been turned into a large storage yard
of oil recovered from the sea and beaches. Thousands of fishing
boats come in and out of the port delivering barrels of oil, which
are then trucked to another location. The foul stench of fish that
once ruled the port is now replaced by the acrid smell of oil and
By late afternoon, smog and dark clouds enveloped the city,
putting the final touch on the prevailing mood of the day: it's
just plain grim.